The Berbers, or as they call themselves the Amazigh, are an ethnic group native to North Africa. Amazigh is thought to mean “free people.” They are related to the ancient Egyptians and they live throughout Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mali, Niger and Mauritania. In previous years, they were much more populous, but they have been reduced to smaller groups scattered across Northern Africa. The Berbers are known for being a fierce and hardy people. This is obvious in one of their most famous sports: Fantasia.
• Fantasia focuses on horsemanship.
• The sport is a traditional part of cultural festivals and wedding celebrations.
• It is called Fantasia, but the Berbers call it lab el baroud, which translates to “The gunpowder play.”
• To play, there are two teams of a dozen riders each.
• The riders dress in traditional clothing.
• The horses are adorned with traditional garb as well.
• The team of horse riders form a line and charge 200 hundred meters.
• While they are riding, they hold old muskets or rifles and fire into the sky.
• The second team of horsemen do the same.
• The two teams are judged on how synchronized the horses and the rifle shots are.
• Traditionally, Fantasia was restricted to men, but recently women have been performing incredibly well at the sport.
Fantasia is a traditional ceremony and sport for the Berbers. It is part of nearly every important ceremony and celebration. In part, this is due to the long and important relationship the Berbers have with horses. As a nomadic people, they often move, but donkeys and camels are used for transportation purposes. Horses are reserved for a different task. The Berbers also have a long tradition as a warrior people and were known for their skillful fighting while on horseback. The Barb breed of horse, which was the primary horse of the Berbers, is known for its fiery temperament and fearlessness in battle.
Come Out and Play
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